Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: Ohhh, So That's Why!
By Pete Charpentier
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I remember trudging through the first chapter of Numbers. Now let me just say from the outset that I believe every word in the Bible is God-breathed (see 2 Timothy 3:16) and is written to teach and encourage (see Romans 15:4). So I know that all the details of Numbers 1:1-46 are given for a reason. I mean, I figured God had a purpose for teaching me there were 46,500 Reubenites, 59,300 Simeonites, 45,650 Gadites, etc.
“But why?” I honestly wondered. “What’s the point that I know Israel had 603,550 young men twenty years old or more on their wilderness trek to the Promised Land?” I pressed.
As you might guess from the tone of my thoughts, I wasn’t sure about the answers to my questions. But everything became clear when I read Numbers 13-14. It was there I had my “Ohhh-so-that’s-why” moment.
You see, as I moved through Numbers 13-14 and how Moses dispatched scouts into the land of Canaan, I found myself “getting-into” the story. Then, when the spies relayed their findings to the rest of the nation and tension developed between most of the scouts who were fearful and the minority who were faithful, my heart started to race. I like a good story – conflicts, climax, choices, and consequences!
And this is precisely when things came together for me. As I read the record of Israel’s fatal decision to react in fear instead of respond in faith at the report of the spies, a chill ran down my spine in light of God’s sober judgment: “In this desert your bodies will fall – everyone of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me” (Numbers 14:29, NIV).
These words leapt off the page! Like a pair of literary hands cupping around my face in order to steady my gaze, the words “twenty years old or more” echoed in my heart. I frantically flipped the pages of my Bible back to Numbers 1:1-46. I knew I had read those words before. They sounded eerily familiar. And as my eyes slowing scanned the first chapter of Numbers again, there they were in verses 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, and 45!
But this time I read them drastically different. This time I “saw” more than words; another image flashed in my mind’s eye. I saw the scene of a horizon dotted with thousands upon thousands of tombstones. And as this new picture crystallized in my thoughts, I pondered to myself, “Ohhh, so that’s why.”
I then realized that when I first read Numbers 1:1-46, I simply rattled these verses off like statistics in a demographic report. But when I reread them in light of God’s judgment, I understood this was a roll call of the dead! These were not faceless “stats” but people, sons, husbands, fathers, and families. Every person in this unbelieving generation except Joshua and Caleb perished in the wilderness (see Numbers 14:30).
And again, this is when it hit me. Every word of the Bible is living, active, and sharp (see Hebrews 4:12). Yes, the Scriptures provide many “Ohhh-so-that’s-why” moments because God reveals Himself through His Word so that I can embrace Him for who He is and for His “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV).
The Bible is God’s self-portrait! It’s not painted on a canvas with brushes and colors. It’s etched in words I can read. It’s wrapped in the stories of history, in the prayers of the Psalms, in the wisdom of Proverbs, and in the confrontation and consolation of the prophets. God reveals Himself in the incarnation – He is Immanuel, God with us (see Matthew 1:23), in the teachings of the apostles, and in the vision of the future. In all of the Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, God reveals Himself. And when I stand on the threshold of forever with the light of eternity bursting back upon the stage of human history, I will exclaim again one more final time, “Ohhh, so that’s why” (see 1 Corinthians 13:11-12)!
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